COMMITTEE DEFEND PHILIPPINES LETTER TO DUTCH AMBASSADOR

December 09, 2008

We are members of a network called Defend-Philippines which supports efforts of Filipino political refugees such as Prof. Jose Ma. Sison as well as other Filipinos abroad to defend themselves against political persecution, involving false charges of terrorism and common crimes, the arrest of Prof. Sison and raids on the homes and the office of the members, consultants and staffers of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) by the Dutch police.

We decry the 5 June 2008 decision of the District Court of the Hague allowing the Public Prosecution Service “sufficient time to continue and finalize the investigation” into charges of murder against Prof. Jose Ma. Sison. This decision is grossly inconsistent with its own declaration that there is no incriminating evidence against him, in consonance with the earlier decision of the same District Court on 13 September 2007, which found no prima facie evidence to implicate Prof. Sison in said killings and therefore ordered his release from jail after 17 days of incarceration. Upon appeal of the Prosecution to extend the detention of Prof. Sison, the Court of Appeals in the Hague on 3 October 2007, ruled that the “files do not provide a sufficient basis… neither can indications be found for the presence of grave presumption with regard to incitement to these offences.” This decision further pointed to the political context of the charge against Prof. Sison.

Defend-Philippines urges the Dutch government to put an end to the demonization and continuing political persecution of Prof. Sison through false charges as well as to foul consequences thereof, including the denial of his well-grounded bid for asylum and his pending application for residence; his right to employment; subsistence allowance, health insurance, housing and old age pension; his right to travel; and the freezing of his bank account containing a small amount for his daily subsistence. Charitable groups, mass organizations, institutions and individuals providing moral and material support for his case all risk being criminalized themselves for aiding a person listed as a “terrorist”.

For the Filipino people and groups worldwide fighting imperialist plunder and the US-led war of terror, Prof. Jose Ma. Sison is a true Filipino patriot and a staunch fighter for national and social liberation in the Philippines and globally.

Instead of being an advocate of “terrorist” violence, he is himself a victim of state terror (in the form of unremitting torture including extended periods of isolation) under the US-backed Marcos dictatorship. This fact is acknowledged by US courts that upheld class action suits against the former dictator and his estate including that filed by Prof. Sison et al. Prof. Sison has lived in the Netherlands since January 1987 and has never committed any crime. He has served as research consultant of the University of Utrecht and professorial lecturer in various Dutch and other European universities. He has been chief political consultant of the NDFP Panel negotiating with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). The Dutch government should help GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, instead of obstructing these by oppressing the NDFP panelists and staffers through false charges, arrests and raids.

We call on the Dutch government to desist from cooperating with the corrupt and brutal regime of President Gloria Arroyo in persecuting Prof. Sison and other Filipino exiles with the use of false charges fabricated in the Philippines. In this connection, we are acutely aware of significant Dutch economic interests in the Philippines, with Dutch multinational corporations profiting hugely from doing business in the country.

Defend Philippines reminds the Dutch government that the real terrorists are those who inflict great harm on a large number of innocent people. The US-backed Arroyo regime has been widely criticized and condemned by the international community for the extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, torture and illegal arrests of more than a thousand oppositionists, progressive individuals, social and political activists and the impunity enjoyed by state security forces implicated in these abominable crimes. The consultants of the NDFP Negotiating Panel who are supposed to be protected by the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) have been subjected to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and detention on the basis of false charges.

The collusion of the Dutch, US and Philippine governments in persecuting Prof. Sison with trumped-up criminal charges and baseless inclusion in “terrorist” listings is being exposed and denounced in the Philippines and abroad. It runs counter to the reputation of the Netherlands as a sanctuary for political refugees and goes against the well known warm hospitality and friendship extended by the Dutch people to visitors to their land.

Defend-Philippines assures the Dutch people of its abiding friendship and solidarity. We link arms with them in their condemnation of their own government’s unjust policies and actuations towards Prof. Sison and other Filipino exiles in their country.

Yours sincerely,

Bonifacio Ilagan
Convenor, Defend – Philippines
c/o 4th Floor, Erythrina Building
#1 Maaralin cor. Matatag
Barangay Central, Quezon City
Tel. 435 – 6930